No Follow

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the big Google Announcement, entitled “Preventing comment spam”. By adding a rel='nofollow'attribute to a link, you instruct Google (and Yahoo, and MSN Search) not to consider the link in things like PageRank calculations. Blog software producers have jumped on the bandwagon, promising to use this attribute in all links within comments, referer lists, etc.- anywhere a website visitor can create a link. The idea is that this removes the incentive for comment spam: nofollow = No PageRank.

Will it work? Ben Hammersley provides a lucid explanation of the economics of spam (it’s free!) and concludes that nofollow may increase the amount of spam. I tend to agree that spammers will pay it little mind; I think the real value (and Google’s real purpose) is that it may help improve search engine results. Remember when finding things via Google was easy, and you never saw links to commerce sites?

Robert Scoble notes this has another use – it allows a blogger to link directly to someone without giving Google juice. How often have you seen someone complain in a blog post about a spammer, without linking directly, for just this reason? Phil Ringnalda points out this can be used to selectively control the PageRank you bestow. Phil has added special style rules to his user style sheet (userContent.css in Firefox) to display all nofollow links in flashing lime green, which ensures he knows when a page he is viewing is fiddling with PageRank. I liked the idea so much I copied his style rule into my user stylesheet, so far it’s been enlightening to see who is using it, and for what links.

For now, I’m taking no action on this site – I already treat any comment containing a raw html tag as spam.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.